Monday, October 10, 2011
The American Spring
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had ruled Tunisia since 1987. He was a strict and oppressive leader who ruled with an iron fist.
Tunisia was plagued with high unemployment, food inflation, corruption, poor living conditions, and lack of political freedoms for it's common people.
In December of 2010, the people of Tunisia decided that they've had enough.
Hundreds of young Tunisians took to the streets to take their country back. As they rushed the capital in a display of democracy rarely seen in Tunisia, they were met with tear gas and brutality from the police.
This did not stop the people of Tunisia. The hundreds of protesters turned into thousands. The thousands turned into tens of thousands. Tens of thousands turned into hundreds of thousands.
During the protests, 300 Tunisian protesters were killed, 700 injured.
On January 14 2011, the protests had forced Ben Ali to flee Tunisia. The people, joined by the Tunisian military, had overthrown their oppressive government.
They fought back and Won.
In early 2011, the people of Egypt grew tired of their 30 year President, Hosni Mubarak.
He planned to have his sons take his place after his reign, which upset many of the Egyptian people who did not want a dynasty or inheritance of power.
He then extended an emergency law that gave total power to the police and suspended constitutional rights. As a result, between 5,000 and 10,000 people were arrested without charge or trial. Police brutality also rose dramatically thanks to the emergency law.
So in January of 2011, the people of Egypt decided to do the forbidden and revolt against their militant government.
At first, it was hundreds of young activists. They were greeted with whatever the police had to throw at them.
Once again, hundreds turned into thousands. Thousands turned into tens of thousands. Tens of thousands turned into hundreds of thousands.
846 Egyptian protesters were killed, over 3,000 injured.
On February 11 2011, due to unstoppable demand, Hosni Mubarak resigned as President. The people of Egypt removed their leader and his radical agenda.
They fought back and won.
Muammar Gaddafi has been the de-facto ruler of Libya since he led a military coup that overthrew King Idris I in 1969.
Gaddafi was a ruthless dictator that ruled Libya by the barrel of a gun for 42 years.
Gaddafi and his family took over most of Libya's business enterprise. The Gaddafi's lived a lavish Hollywood lifestyle while most of the Libyan people lived in poverty.
Libya became the most censored country in the Middle-East and North Africa under Gaddafi. Being found guilty of organizing or founding a political party in Libya was met with execution.
Despite knowing it could mean their deaths, the people of Libya decided to fight back against their oppressive dictator.
On February 15th 2011, between 500 and 600 protesters took to the streets. Police met them with violence and arrests.
Inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the people of Libya asked that all Libyans who oppose Gaddafi meet on February 17th for a "Day of Rage". The next day, police and army personnel withdrew from the city of Benghazi after being overwhelmed by protesters.
The protests and protesters kept growing until Libya broke out into a full on civil war between the Pro-Gaddafi government and anti-Gaddafi citizens. Peaceful revolution was not possible in Libya with Gaddafi in charge. 10,000 to 30,000 died in what would become the Libyan civil war, at least 50,000 wounded. Gaddafi even had his own soldiers executed who refused to fire at protesters.
By March, the U.N. issued a no fly zone over Libya and began to take the side of the rebels. NATO eventually came in and started building up rebel forces to topple Gaddafi.
Over the next few months, the Libyan rebels made great strides and moved in on Gaddafi one city at a time. By late August, rebel forces seized Gaddafi's compound and ran their tyrant out of Libya. Gaddafi's whereabouts are still unknown at the time of this post.
The people of Libya removed their dictator from his 42 year reign.
They fought back and won.
On September 17th 2011, Americans fed up with a system set up to increase income for the rich at the expense of the poor, met in the belly of the beast, Wall Street, to bring attention to our broken economic system.
The plan was to occupy Wall Street and refuse to leave until their voices were heard and action was taken. They represent the working-class, which is the majority class in America.
They've seen their income redistributed to the top 1% as they're asked to sacrifice even more. They've been laid off in times when the company they worked for was raking in record profits, so that company could make even more money sending that job to another country. If they still have a job, they've seen their benefits, pensions, and wages cut while millionaires and billionaires are doing better than ever before in history.
They watched as the same financial institutions that crashed our economy and sent us into a brutal recession that we are still hurting from, were given a $700 billion welfare check. They watched as they lost their homes, jobs, and savings as they were told it was their fault for not working hard enough, or being lazy.
They watched poverty and unemployment skyrocket as the wealthiest among them were richer than ever before.
To make up for the cost of 2 wars, $700 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and the Wall Street Bailout/Welfare Check, they were told that they, the taxpayers, would have to tighten their belts and not to dare suggest that the rich sacrifice with them. That would be class warfare.
They were told that it was the unions, teachers, public workers, poor single mothers, and their own desire to have a decent job that caused this mess. That working class people living paycheck to paycheck somehow had enough power to crash the economy on their frozen wages and vanished savings. Don't even start thinking that Wall Street bankers had something to do with this, blame your neighbor instead.
Those in power bought by the corporations suggested cuts in education, protective regulations, pensions, health care, NPR, PBS, medicare, medicaid, VA healthcare, workers rights, voting rights, disaster funding, and women's rights. Anything but asking the richest people on Earth to pay a fair share of the taxes.
This didn't go over well with most of the 99% of Americans who aren't filthy rich.
On September 17th, several hundred Americans stormed Wall Street and occupied it in a brave effort to save a country from itself.
The police blocked off most of Wall Street and used pepper spray, nightsticks, and overall brutality on the protesters, similar to protests in the Middle-East.
The corporate-owned mainstream media mostly ignored the protests.
As days went by, the protests grew and grew. Hundreds turned into thousands.
Then in the second week of the protests, protesters were ushered onto the Brooklyn Bridge by the NY police and mass arrested. 700 Americans were arrested that day. Images of police pepper spraying innocent bystanders and beating people unnecessarily were being seen all over America.
Thousands turned into Tens of thousands.
As I'm writing this, there are now occupy events in almost every major city in the United States. The ground zero for the protests on Wall Street had to expand in location to fit the growing number of people coming out to join the fight.
The media has been forced to cover the Occupy Wall Street protests due to it's rapid growth. Since the media is mostly corporate owned, some outlets attempt to smear the movement in hopes of marginalizing it to death. So far, this is not working. It is only growing.
The only violence in this movement have been from the police. The protesters remain peaceful as it is part of their overall message.
Unlike examples in the Middle-East, this movement is not looking to overthrow it's government or any elected officials by force or demonstration. This will happen at the ballot box.
They are simply asking to have more of a voice and input in the politics and policies that effect their lives. They cannot afford lobbyists or PACs. They feel that their congress is bought and their voice has been silenced in the name of money. They just want economic fairness and an opportunity at an American dream they grew up hearing about, but haven't seen in reality and now feels completely out of reach.
Over the next few months, the Occupy Wall Street movement will continue to grow all over the country. They will eventually show so much power in numbers that it will be impossible not to hear their voice. They will peacefully take their country back and Washington will be forced to act on behalf of the people.
Failure is not an option. When you put people in a position where they have nothing left to lose, it backfires on you. They have nowhere to go but up. They fight with a desperation and purpose that the rich and selfish could not possibly muster up.
Even when the protests come to an end, the powers that be will know that they are there, they are watching, and they are not going to take it.
They will think twice before messing with the working-class, the 99% majority of this country.
The people of America are waking up and refusing to take part in a system that sacrifices them to the richest 1%.
They are fighting back and they will win.